After a hot shooting start last season, Scotty Hopson
came back down to earth as the year went on, going on to post similar production and efficiency numbers as he did in his freshman season, not improving noticeably in any statistical area. That said, in watching the tape it's clear that he did take some steps forward in terms of his skill set and role within the team, something he'll look to build upon as a junior.
Offensively, Hopson's game still relies primarily around his jump shot, which he shoots equally as often off the dribble as in catch and shoot situations. Despite this tendency, Hopson's pull-up jumper is still noticeably behind where it needs to be, as he scores a dreadful 0.51 points per shot on jumpers off the dribble, compared to a solid 1.08 points per shot spotting up.
Mechanically, Hopson is extremely sloppy in his shooting motion, something that becomes more pronounced when he's pulling up, as he shows poor balance, jumps into many of his shots excessively, and shows little understanding of the difference between a good and bad shot attempt. On the positive side, Hopson shows good release speed, an incredibly high release, and his upper body motions are generally consistent, while he clearly has a ton of natural ability putting the ball in the hole. Refining his mechanics to become more consistent and working on his shot selection could lead to massive improvements in this area.
In terms of attacking the basket, Hopson is in need of refinement in this area as well, though his handle certainly improved from his freshman to sophomore season, allowing him more opportunities to flash his talent scoring the ball. Hopson's handle currently lacks tightness and he's much less confident with his left hand than his right, while he doesn't possess the greatest command of advanced moves aside from the occasional crossover in space. While Hopson shows both a very good first step and second gear on occasion, his lack of handle prevents him from making his excellent athletic abilities consistently functional, and this is compounded even more by the difficult spacing in the college game, as Hopson really struggles getting through double teams.
On the positive side, when Hopson is able to get himself in isolation, he's already showing flashes of strong ability attacking the basket, as despite his lack of handle, he shows very good footwork in the lane, and with his high level of reactiveness, he can cover a lot of ground utilizing jump stops and other moves in the painted area to gain separation. Showing a nice developing right-handed floater to go along with effortless elevation around the rim, Hopson is already a very good finisher when he can get to within five feet of the basket with the ball, and has the potential to improve even more in this area as he develops the rest of his game.
As for the rest of his offensive game, despite his lack of polish in skills and sometimes erratic shot selection from the perimeter, Hopson does seem to have good instincts and awareness overall, doing a good job of reading what the defense gives him and not showing much in terms of tunnel vision. His passing game certainly has room for improvement, but he does a good job moving without the ball and making simple passes within the flow of the offense.
Defensively, despite his excellent physical tools, Hopson shows considerable problems in man-to-man defense as this level, primarily due to lack of consistent effort moving his feet, but also due to poorly compensating for a high center of gravity, which makes it very awkward for him to handle quick changes of direction. Increasing his effort level in man-to-man defense, doing a better job to contest players from behind when they're riding his hip on drives, and better utilizing his length in the passing lanes are all things Hopson should work on, as he's clearly nowhere near his potential on this end of the floor. To his credit, one area where Hopson does fare quite well on this end is in the pick-and-roll game, where he shows good awareness and does a good job switching and trapping with his size and length.
Looking forward, Hopson's draft stock is currently all over the board, but with his natural talent in combination with excellent physical tools, he has the potential to move up considerably if he matures in his approach to his craft and can finally put all his tools together to develop a more consistent game. As it stands, there probably isn't one thing Hopson consistently does at an above average NBA level, though he shows excellent flashes in all areas of his scoring game and did show somewhat of a learning curve as a sophomore. NBA teams will be watching closely to see if Hopson's game matures as a junior, and he should have every opportunity to show just that.